Sick, elderly woman takes on Trudeau government’s impaired driving laws
A 76-year-old Victoria woman is taking on Canada’s roadside impaired driving test.
Norma McLeod will be working with her lawyers to launch a constitutional challenge against the controversial and “unfair” law that some are saying gives police an unprecedented amount of power, being able to demand a breathalyzer at their will.
“I just feel the police have no sympathy for us who have a hard time breathing, said McLeod. “I have gotten a lot more confident than I was before. Others have come forward with their problems as well.”
Concerns surrounding Canada’s roadside driver tests have bubbled over in recent months, as different stories of police crossing boundaries continue to pop up from province to province.
Recently, a woman in Nova Scotia had her car impounded. Her crime? Having M.S.
Michelle Gray was stopped for a roadside checkpoint. Gray, a medical cannabis product user that aids in her treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms, was stopped at the checkpoint while driving on her way to work.
Gray says she wasn’t worried initially. It had been over six hours since she had last consumed any cannabinoid product, which is the amount of time the federal government enforces for the operation of a vehicle.
But unfortunately for Gray, she tested positive for THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. And although she passed a sobriety test, she still had her licence suspended for one week.
Cases of this nature are not few or far between.
In a story reported by Global News, a man by the name of Art went to his local Ontario Beer Store to return about three dozen beer bottles and 10 wine bottles, which his family had accumulated over the Christmas season.
Not much time had passed, and Art had been pulled over in a traffic stop by a police officer who asked if he had been drinking. Art said he had not.
Art says the officer demanded a roadside breath sample. Art asked the officer what would happen if he did not provide the breathalyzer test, to which the officer informed him that he would face arrest, a criminal charge, and a license suspension. All of this from a 70 year old man who was simply returning bottles to the Beer Store.
Art took the breathalyzer test. He passed the test, and went on to continue his day.
McLeod’s case is of similar nature. She was pulled over after leaving a liquor store near her home. She wasn’t drinking, and showed no signs of impaired driving, but was pulled over anyway. She was then instructed to conduct a breathalyzer test.
After several attempts, she was unable to physically blow hard enough for the breathalyzer to detect anything whatsoever. She then had her car impounded, her licence revoked, and failed an appeal, despite having a doctor note saying she couldn’t blow hard enough to pass the test.
McLeod survived mouth cancer, wears a mouth implement and has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, an illness which typically causes chronic bronchitis and asthma symptoms.
“Many people are being caught up in on this without having anything to drink. It clearly is a guilty-until-proven-innocent situation,” says Jerry Steele, one of two lawyers assisting McLeod in her case.
“If we were successful and we were able to strike this legislation as unconstitutional it will go back to what it was like before December 2019, which is police needed at least a reasonable suspicion.”
The law firm states that they are looking to highlight other stories of a similar nature. The lawyers say that predatory policing could be at play, a practice in which officers target elderly citizens who are legally leaving liquor stores.
“When you pull people over who have done nothing wrong, no driving behavior, no admission of consumption, no odour of liquor, nothing to indicate they have consumed alcohol within a very lengthy period of time and then you terrorize them to the side of the road because you have the lawful authority to do so,” said Steele.
For now, McLeod will be taking public transit. In her sickly state, taking transit can be a
“It is a lot of walking. I am huffing and puffing when I am walking to the bus. And I can’t take my dog with me on the bus. I normally take him in the car I miss that too,” McLeod said.
“I just hope they come up with something for people that because of their health issues cannot breathe into the tube.”
Disclaimer: Ashley Teixeira is a Director for the VP Internal for the University of Calgary Campus Conservative Club, and is a volunteer for CPC candidate Pat Kelly.
As the Conservative candidate in the Northern B.C. riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Claire decided to run for federal office after a successful term as a Kitimat councillor, having escaped the clutches of homelessness and poverty eight years prior.
Delving into the topics of resource development, women in politics, as well as the adversity she has faced, Claire provides her take on the Conservative movement in Canada.
TPM: Claire, having moved from Vancouver to Kitimat as a 19-year-old, you went on to serve as a Kitimat municipal councillor as well as own and operate a tattoo shop. Can you delve a little into what shaped/influenced your political values today?
CR: Yeah. I think that being a small business owner and understanding the value of fiscal responsibility [where I made] sacrifices to ensure that my employees were paid on time and paid well – all of those factors, while also running a household, helped to shape my views. That was one of the key things that I carried forward into my work as a school councillor, I paid a lot of attention to where we were spending money, where we were getting the most effective use for it, [and that] we were operating not only within our means but within what would be best for the community.
TPM: How has this journey been for you, as a CPC candidate, compared to your term as a councillor in Kitimat?
CR: Well, I think there are distinct differences. I mean, the sheer size of the riding, the number of people that you could potentially be representing, the number of contacts that you have to make, and that’s why I put so much time and effort into my door knocking.
I’ve been on the doors every day, thousands of doors. We’re getting closer and closer to 10,000 doors, which in a riding of this size, and this type of geography is monumental. It’s not an easy task by any means. I think that that is one of the biggest differences, and then also coupling that with the fact that you’re not just looking at one community issue, you’re looking at issues from a very, very wide variety of communities that are facing unique struggles, and finding ways to find solutions for all.
TPM: The importance of the $40 billion investment into the BC LNG project was crucial for your riding. What discussions are you having at the doors regarding the importance of resource development?
CR: I would say that the majority of residents in this riding are in favour of the energy industry. That’s been made pretty evident by the amount of community support the project has had among First Nations that have signed on to agreements with them. The fact is, this project has unprecedented levels of community support. And I think that there’s a couple of reasons for that.
I mean, one is the LNG Canada has been a fantastic partner to work with. They have invested in the community, and [are] good corporate citizens. They spend the time to educate people on what the realities of liquefied natural gas are and ensure that they mitigate as much of the possible negative impacts as they can. So by and large, the majority, the vast majority of people in this riding, are very much in favour of the LNG project.
I’ve also had a few conversations with people that weren’t so in favour or were sitting on the fence. And the majority of those people don’t understand the differences between liquefied natural gas and oil [and their subsequent impacts]. So they assume that it’s very similar to oil being put in a pipeline. With just a little bit of that education in this area, people realize that some of their fears were unfounded.
TPM: For the past few years, conflicts between B.C. and Alberta have persisted regarding TMX. Given private investment has helped rejuvenate Haisla First Nation in the past decade, is there any hope for constructive dialogue on the environment and resource development, moving forward?
CR: I’ll be honest. I very rarely hear about it. It rarely comes up at the doors. It did come up in one of the debates we’ve had so far, just very briefly, and it was only centred around how do the candidates feel about the federal Liberals and the pipeline. So that’s not a big topic in my riding; people are much more focused on LNG. I think the [uncertainty felt] was simply because of the Enbridge project. And people believed that this LNG project is very similar to the Northern Gateway pipeline, which of course it isn’t.
When it comes to that environmental piece, I think that again, it just comes down to education and helping people to understand the significant positive impact that a project like this will have on our environment. When you look at things from a global scale, which we should be doing when it comes to our environment because the environment and climate change don’t know boundaries of countries and continents.
We, in Canada, only produce about 1.6 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world. When we look at countries, specifically China, for example, where they’re burning a lot of coal, projects like liquefied natural gas can help them transition away from coal-burning and do more good for the environment overall. At the same time, we have the economic benefit that comes along with having a project like this, because we get more educational opportunities, more employment opportunities, there’s more money being invested back into our local economy here. So it’s a win-win on both sides.
TPM: How important is it for the CPC to continue attracting more women to run for office in a profession once dominated by men?
CR: In my experience, my party has in no way been trying to specifically recruit within that environment for something that is a requirement for some of the other parties. We’re looking at people that are qualified to do the job, and that want to step forward. So I wasn’t in any way recruited. I came forward and said, this is something I want to do. And I’m very grateful that the party has accepted me so well, mainly because I’m not just a woman. I’m also young and a little “alternative looking” because I’m covered in tattoos and piercings. The response I’ve received has been so warm and so welcoming.
I believe we’re seeing more women stepping forward, because we [elected] a fake feminist Prime Minister, who espouses his views of gender equality and gender parity in his cabinet. He was all about what builds women up, and yet, he didn’t attract women that were, for the most part, qualified for their positions. That is why we’re in some of the situations that we are now in Canada, because people were elected to positions that they weren’t ready to take on.
Something that I’ve always really admired about my party is that the women that we have in this party are more than capable. They’re absolute powerhouses. They have proven time and time again that women are capable of doing these things, bringing their A-game. They know what they’re talking about, do their research, and have great role models.
For me, that’s been Michelle Rempel, who I’m so grateful to call my friend and my mentor. Watching her give speeches is what motivated me to get involved and realize that I can be taken seriously. That I can do these things. People shouldn’t vote for somebody simply because they’re a woman. You should vote for the person if they’re the best for the job. I’m the only woman running in this riding, if that were a valid argument, I would be using it, but I’m not.
TPM: The leader of your party was quoted, saying, “Diversity is the result of our strength, and our strength is and has always been our freedom.” How crucial is this sort of messaging, moving forward, during and after the election?
CR: Yeah, I think it is important that people realize that – and it’s one of the biggest stigmas that I like breaking about my party because I think there’s been there’s been this stigma that we are a party of middle-aged white men and that there’s no diversity. But there truly is, and I have an excellent little anecdote to share with you, that kind of sums that up for me.
During my time as a municipal councillor, I’m sure most people already recognize that, for the most part, municipal politics is dominated by more left-leaning politicians. I attended many different conventions, UBCM, FCM, and CLGA and had the opportunity to speak with many other municipal councillors and mayors and connect. So at every single one of those that I went to, at least once during the event, I would have somebody say something just absolutely awful to me.
People have mistaken me for a waitress quite often and tried to get me to bring them drinks. I had people tell me that there’s no way I could have been elected, I must have been acclaimed. People that didn’t believe me and tried to get me removed from events because they thought I was lying about being a municipal councillor. There was a lot of verbal abuse from people in those settings.
I remember one specific time that I was at FCM, so all across Canada, we’ve got municipal councillors, and the mayor’s at this event. And I’m going up an escalator, and there was a well-known mayor from another community coming down the escalator with a friend of his, and he looked me up and down and looked at my tattoos and said that I was “everything that’s wrong with this country.”
And so I went into politics, thinking that I would struggle to have anyone take me seriously and give me the chance to speak before they made a judgment based on my appearance. And so again, that’s why somebody like Michelle Rempel, stood out to me, and I realized that I am capable.
The biggest thing for me that opened my eyes up to this is I attended the Conservative convention last year in Halifax. This was the first convention of a political nature that I did not have a single rude comment from anyone. People that I didn’t know were coming up to me and told me how excited they were that I was there. And that it made them very proud to see this younger generation getting involved and that they understand our values. The amount of positive reinforcement I received, if my mind wasn’t already made up, it was then.
I think that quite often we hear left-leaning politicians speaking loudly about how they are so tolerant, and yet, their tolerance only goes so far as you agree with them. If you disagree with them, they’ll pick on you for anything, whether it’s your gender, your age, you know, the way you look, it doesn’t seem to matter. They are only tolerant to a certain point, and that’s about as far as it goes if you agree with what they think.
So the irony to me is that I’ve had a lot of abuse throughout this. It’s been from people making fun of the way I look or saying that I’m too young or inexperienced, or I’m a woman and picking on me for that. So I think it was a stark parallel between what people have come to believe, just from what they hear in the media and things of that nature and my actual lived experience with that.
Downtown Vancouver can expect heavy traffic tomorrow as eco-radical group Extinction Rebellion will be protesting during rush hour, according to CTV.
Protests are expected to begin at 4:30 pm at Georgia and Hamilton streets. As per the Facebook event, 100 people say they will be in attendance, with an additional 400 people noting that they’re interested.
As for the route to be taken, there is currently no route set in stone for Friday’s march.
Some may remember when just weeks ago, Extinction Rebellion clogged up traffic in a stunt wherein protestors blocked off the downtown bridge for 12 hours. Ten people were arrested during the incident for obstruction.
Extinction Rebellion has made international headlines for stunts of similar nature. Just this week, Extinction Rebellion members were assaulted following their halting of a London tube train.
In a not-so-shocking display of partisan attitudes, the CBC won’t be suing a Liberal candidate who used the broadcaster’s footage in her election advertisement according to Toronto Sun’s Brian Lilley.
The Calgary Skyview candidate Nirmala
Naidoo apparently complied with the request and that was the end of the story. She is herself a former CBC employee and reporter.
“It starts with a phone call, then a letter and escalates from there. In this particular instance, the candidate complied with our request immediately after we reached out,” said CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson.
However, a similar incident with the Conservative Party has led to a controversial lawsuit waged by the national broadcaster against the main party contending the Liberals in 2019.
Despite the fact that the Conservatives claim that they pulled the advertisement shortly after being contacted by the CBC, the public broadcaster has filed an application with the federal court against the party.
The lawsuit initially named Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker, but the journalists’ names were later pulled by the company.
By now, most Canadians’ voting intentions are settled. It’s late in the day to be reminding people of why they should—or shouldn’t—consider a party or its leader worthy of their vote. Nevertheless, since no other commentator has brought the issue up, I want to remind readers of the Trudeau government’s shameful neglect of the Yazidi people in their hour of greatest need.
The genocide of the Yazidis, an ancient, peaceful, monotheistic people who have lived in Iraq and Syria since time immemorial, fell victim to ISIL in a terror campaign that lasted from 2014-17. In Aug and Dec 2014, the systematic rapes of 7,000 Yazidi women were reported by Human rights Watch and Amnesty International, and in October, 2014, the UN reported that 5,000 Yazidi men had been executed—a campaign carried out in a style perfected in Eastern Europe’s “Bloodlands” by the Nazis, now called “The Holocaust by Bullets.” So there was no question about the veracity of the facts. Yet on June 14, 2016, Justin Trudeau said, “We do not feel that politicians should be weighing in on this first and foremost.”
At the height of the horrors in 2016, what was happening was condemned as a genocide by many official entities—by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the U.S. House of representatives, the UK House of Commons and by a Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
Yet in June 2016, the Liberals voted against a Conservative-sponsored motion in the House of Commons that sought to condemn the actions of ISIS. Why was Trudeau reluctant to add his government’s witness to truth, given the general willingness in the international community to call this genocide what it was?
One reason might be that such a recognition would have triggered Regulation 138 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which defines vulnerable groups of people in urgent need of protection. A formal parliamentary recognition of genocide against the Yazidis would have obligated the Canadian government—morally, if not legally—to accept tens of thousands of Yazidi survivors to our shores.
Justin Trudeau was, however, from Day One fixated on rescuing Syrian Muslim refugees above all. As a result, actual genocide victims were forced to languish in exile from their homes in Mount Sinjar, reduced to rubble by ISIL, and who were still at risk from ISIL members in captivity, while 45,000 lightly-vetted Syrians from UNHCR camps, who had not been targeted for genocide, nor were in “urgent need of protection,” were whisked to Canada before Dec 31, 2015, by a marvellous coincidence permitting them to become citizens before this election.
Eventually, in October 2016, thanks largely to the persistent efforts of Michelle Rempel, Official Opposition critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Trudeau government did eventually vote to recognize the Yazidi situation as a genocide. But they never followed up on their pledge to bring in thousands of traumatized survivors. To date, of the estimated 500,000 Yazidis living in Iraq before the genocide, fewer than 1500 Yazidi survivors have been admitted to Canada.
All refugees suffer from culture shock, language barriers and other vulnerabilities. The Yazidis are exponentially more fragile. A number of the women are here with children, but no husbands or male kinsmen, because they were killed or their whereabouts undocumentable. They have endured sex slavery, some for years, and are near-paralyzed from PTSD. Illiteracy and poor schooling are common themes, because their culture is oral. None come speaking English.
Yet the government offered nugatory support. The dazed arrivals were expected to find housing on their own and learn enough English within the first year to find employment—a completely unrealistic expectation for these shell-shocked people. Were it not for the dedicated help of volunteers from groups such as Project Abraham, who help newcomers navigate the bewildering paperwork and simple tasks we take for granted, these people could not possibly integrate or even function. The bureaucracy has made it extremely difficult for kinsmen left behind, who could be a great moral support—sisters, nephews, in-law—to make application for reunion here.
Some of the stories these victims bring with them are heartbreaking. I interviewed one Yazidi woman, who had been a sex slave for 14 months, passed around amongst 13 different men. “Nada,” as I called her, had been living in London, Ontario for eight months when she recognized her former slave owner on a bus. Debarking, they stared at each other. She said he instantly covered his face and ran off. Nada went to the refugee centre, and told them what had happened. She gave an official there the man’s real name and also his ISIL name. Then, Nada told me, the official said to her, “Don’t tell anyone.”
After my account was published, there was a flurry of interest and dismay expressed at the idea of a jihadist having slipped through the vetting net. Nobody doubted he was the only one, either. I was contacted by the London Police Service. I referred them to Nada. To my knowledge, the man has not been found, even though it seems to me it shouldn’t have been that difficult to track him down.
It occurred to me that this would, for a prime minister obsessively focused on optics and photo opportunities that cast him in a benevolent light, have been a perfect opening for a gesture that would have endeared him to many Canadians. He could have contacted Nada, sat down with her, listened to her story (just as he listened to the story of Joshua Boyle and his wife on their return from captivity in Pakistan, for instance, bouncing their baby on his knee), promised to bring her tormenter to justice—and then, seen to it that justice was at least done to at least one ISIL member on Canadian soil. So easy. But no.
Mass graves of murdered Yazidis turn up every few weeks in Iraq, and 3,000 enslaved Yazidi women remain in captivity. Many Yazidis are now stuck in the new war zone that Turkey has just opened up in northern Syria. The Yazidi catastrophe was recognized as a genocide because of pressure brought to bear by the CPC. Will a Scheer government continue along the moral high road it embarked on, if it forms the next government? The fate of a devastated people depends on it.
I am grateful to Ottawa Immigration lawyer Julie Taub, a former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, for her substantial contribution in factfinding for this column.